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Spirit Of Daytona Wins At Barber

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 31 2012

The Spirit of Daytona racing team and Corvette sprang to life Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama as they combined to win the Porsche 250 Rolex GRAND-AM Sports Car Series race.

The victory was the first in the DP class for the team and the marque.

Richard Westbrook, who won the pole for the race on Friday, and Antonio Garcia did the driving.

Westbrook got his first win and Garcia his second.

Garcia, who took over the lead at the one-hour and 15-minute mark of the timed event, crosssed the finish line 2.326 seconds ahead of the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette of Alex Gurney, who was sharing the seat with Jon Fogarty.

Defending series champion Scott Pruett of Chip Ganassi Racing finished third in a Riley/BMW. His co-driver was Memo Rojas.

Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio were fourth in the No. 8 Riley-Ford to a fourth place finish and moved to the series points lead.

In the GT class, the SpeedSource team of Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito got the victory in the No. 70 Mazda RX-8.

Garcia was leading by 32 seconds when a late-race caution period set up a three-lap sprint to the finish. It was no problem for the Spanish driver, who beat Gurney to the checkered flag by 2.326 seconds.

“The car felt great all weekend, particularly in race trim,” said Westbrook, who paced the opening 33 circuits.

“The most important thing was to bring home the first victory for the Corvette DP,” said Garcia, who led twice for 51 of the 103 circuits. His only prior Rolex Series victory was in the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

“Spirit of Daytona has a magic sauce here, based off what they’ve done here the last few years,” Gurney said. “We tried real hard to find out their secret, but we’re only about halfway there.”

A year ago, Spirit of Daytona won its first DP pole at Barber and led a race-high 50 laps before being slowed by an electrical problem late in the event.

SpeedSource teammates Tremblay and Bomarito won in GT by a full lap, leading the final 70 laps. Jeff Segal finished second in the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am started by Emil Assentato, followed by Leh Keen and Andrew Davis in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3.

The Stats

DP 1st: Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook, No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP

DP 2nd: Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP

DP 3rd: Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley

GT 1st: Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito, No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8

GT 2nd: Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato, No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am

GT 3rd: Leh Keen and Andrew Davis, No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche GT3

Margin of Victory:  2.326 seconds (overall); one lap (GT)

Average Speed:   86.116 mph (overall); 81.458 mph (GT)

Cautions: Four for 17 laps

The Points (Unofficial)

DP: Enzo Potolicchio/Ryan Dalziel, 60; Antonio Garcia/Richard Westbrook and John Pew/Ozz Negri, 58.

GT: Andy Lally/John Potter, 63; Leh Keen/Andrew Davis and Jonathan Bomarito/Sylvain Tremblay, 60.


Ø  Scott Pruett gambled by pitting for tires during the final caution period. It paid off, as he gained two positions and was closing on Alex Gurney’s second-place car during the three-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas won three of the last four races at Barber, in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Ø  David Donohue qualified the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP in third and was running with the leaders throughout his shift. Shortly after Darren Law took over, contact with Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP sent the Action Express team to the garage for lengthy repairs.

Ø  Rolex 24 At Daytona winners Ozz Negri and John Pew lost several laps after Negri took to the grass to avoid a spinning GT car. They went on to finish eighth.

Ø   Horton Autosport rolled out a brand-new No. 73 Neo Synthetic Oil Porsche GT3 that turned its first laps in Thursday’s practice. Eric Foss then qualified fourth on Friday. The team’s only previous Rolex Series race was at Watkins Glen in August in an older Porsche, with Foss and Patrick Lindsay set to run the remainder of the season in the new car. Foss ran third before an off-course excursion led to an unscheduled stop. They finished 14th.

Ø  The new No. 51 APR Audi R8 GRAND-AM was qualified seventh by Dion von Moltke, but was sent to the back of the grid for a ride-height violation due to a bolt being too low on the splitter. Dr. Jim Norman started the car, and went on to join von Moltke in an 11th-place finish.

Ø  Magnus Racing lost a brand-new engine in Thursday’s opening practice session – and switched to the powerplant that carried the team to its first victory in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. Andy Lally led four laps and joined John Potter in a fourth-place finish to maintain the lead in the championship.

The Numbers:

Ø 1 – Laps led by Emil Assentato after his first Rolex Series pass for the lead

Ø 11 – GT cars one lap down behind the winning SpeedSource Mazda RX-8

Ø 25 – GT laps led by pole winner Paul Edwards

Ø 60 – GT laps led by Jonathan Bomarito

Ø 90.701 – Speed in mph of Spencer Pumpelly’s fastest GT race lap

Ø 100.675 – Speed in mph of Richard Westbrook’s fastest race lap

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 31 2012
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